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The day David Robinson racked up 71 points

The Admiral edged out Shaq as the year’s scoring champ

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

On April 24, 1994, the San Antonio Spurs faced the Los Angeles Clippers. The last game of the season, these matchups are throw aways as the hierarchy of the playoff bracket has been cemented. But for one player, the last game signified a chance to claim the scoring record for the season.

Spurs center David Robinson and Shaquille O’Neal were neck and neck to a photo finish determining who would ultimately be crowned the league’s scoring leader.

Going into his final game, Shaq notched 32 points and 22 rebounds against the Nets. Later that day, Robinson dropped 71 points.

“It was unbelievable,” said Robinson. “My team has been behind me the whole year. They always push me to do a lot of individual things. As a leader, I just try to win games, but tonight they really wanted me to shoot it. When the game started, they were looking for me almost every time down the court.”

Robinson joined Elgin Baylor, David Thompson, and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to score 71 or more points. Since then, Kobe Bryant (81), Damian Lillard (71), and Donovan Mitchell (71) have all matched the feat. The last two did it earlier this season, underlining the higher scoring of the 2022-2023 season.

With a minute left in the game, and the Spurs up over 20, Spurs head coach John Lucas instructed his players to foul the opposing team so Robinson could get a few more shots up. The Admiral scored an additional 7 points in the final minute to give him the grand total 71.

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